30. Reading the Room

Our guest for this episode of Agility at Work is Erin Egan. She does business development for Amazon—acquiring technology, partnering with other companies, and sometimes taking a leading role in buying them. She previously did this sort of work for Microsoft and, in France, with Airbus.

In short, Erin is a full-time negotiator. And she loves aspects of that process that most people find stressful.

“I love the unknown. I love the ambiguity,” she says. “I like having to read people, and just the twists and turns you go through trying to find a path where you get what you want. I find that endlessly fascinating!” Same is true for the negotiations she does in her day-to-day life. (You’ll hear Erin tell a story about how she used her bicycle as a trade-in for a car.)

It could be that Erin’s delight comes from a rare gift she has, the ability to read interpersonal dynamics. That comes in hand in negotiation when people are being less than truthful or when people on the other team have competing agendas.

The source of her skill stems from something that many people would regard as a disadvantage. For her, though, it gives her a huge edge at the bargaining table.